Don’t Think of an Elephant

Late one evening at the Tanga International Conference Centre, Leif and I sit and look at the many pictures all of us have taken during the Metafari so far. The Masai watchmen gather around us to watch the photos flicker. Lots of them are from the Mikumi Natural Park. There are elephants drinking. Elephants fighting. Elephants peeing. Baby elephants and very old and big elephants. We realise that we might have to do some culling… But it definitely will be difficult not to think of them.

George Lakoff is a famous American cognitive scientist who’s behind books such as “Metaphors we live by” and “Women, fire and dangerous things”. A few years ago he published the book “Don’t think of an Elephant” providing excellent advice to progressives on how to become better at framing the political debate. Although the democrat versus republican debate is somewhat difficult to translate directly into Swedish politics, we found it very suitable for reading during the Metafari. Lakoff calls himself a “cognitive activist”. I like to be that too. I realise that I think the purpose of the Metafari should not only to be to help people to become better at using storytelling and metaphors when trying to achieve change in organisations or society, it’s also about trying to create a more nurturing approach to life. Now I just need to find a good framing for telling that.

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